Battle of Myitkyina
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseIn late 1943, the United States put together a long range penetration unit modeled after British General Orde Wingate's Chindits. As it would eventually be known, the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) was a light infantry unit designed to disrupt Japanese movements in northern Burma. Although Wingate had the experience in conducting operations in the jungle behind Japanese lines and that British Vice Admiral Louis Mountbatten was the regional Allied commander (South East Asia Command, SEAC), US Lieutenant General Joseph Stilwell, who distrusted the British, was determined to keep this new American unit under his own command without British influence, and Mountbatten conceded. The responsibility of day-to-day operations was given to Frank Merrill, who, while capable, was known to have gained Stilwell's favor by being a yes-man, and it was Merrill's name that inspired the press to bestow the nickname "Merrill's Marauders" to the unit. Through Merrill held the nominal title, it was Colonel Charles Hunter who truly ran the unit in the field. The men of the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) were recruited from existing servicemen, with wide ranging backgrounds (some grew up in cities, while some were of farming background; 5037th also had a detachment of Japanese-Americans operating as translators) and military experience (some were combat veterans of Guadalcanal, while some were bored garrison soldiers from Panama Canal Zone). Due to the harsh climate and the expected dangers, Stilwell had promised these soldiers, all volunteers, that they would be deployed for three months, and would receive three months of rest. They arrived in India to began their training, and they officially began their trek into the jungles of northern Burma from Ningbyen on 24 Feb 1944. They would be resupplied by air.
ww2dbaseThe Americans of 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) operated in conjunction with Chinese troops that were also under Stilwell's command in his role as the head of the Northern Combat Area Command, a subcommand of SEAC. Chinese troops (22nd Division, 38th Division, and Chinese 1st Provisional Tank Group) greatly outnumbered the 5307th and bore the brunt of front line fighting as they marched down established roads and trails; the Americans were to cut through jungles to strike or establish roadblocks at unexpected locations to aid the Chinese.
ww2dbaseThrough difficult fighting, the Sino-Americans slowly pushed the Japanese back in northern Burma. The Chinese 38th Division captured Walawbum in the morning of 7 Mar 1944, but the Americans failed to cut off the southward retreat of the demoralized Japanese 18th Division. The ridge of Jambu Bum in the Mogaung Valley was to be the next target, with Chinese 22nd Division acting as the main assault force while a Sino-American force consisted of US 5307th and two regiments from Chinese 38th Division was to go behind Japanese lines to cut supply lines; this was achieved on 19 Mar 1944. Next, Shaduzup was taken by Chinese troops before dawn on 30 Mar 1944. At around the same time, at Nhpum Ga, 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) faced a concerted Japanese offensive, and would end up conducting a stubborn defense there for the following 10 days, suffering casualties and nearly running out of supplies, but the 3rd Battalion was ultimately able to reach Nhpum Ga and break the Japanese assault.
ww2dbaseOn 3 Apr, Stilwell met with Mountbatten. The British SEAC commander shared his positive outlook for an Allied victory at Imphal, India, which was under a Japanese assault, and that the Chindits would remain active in Burma, thus keeping Stilwell's western flank secure. Surprisingly, Mountbatten brought up the possibility of turning the Chindits over to Stilwell so that the American general could better coordinate long range penetration operations behind Japanese lines in northern Burma. Even more surprisingly, the arrogant Stilwell turned it down, believing that his Sino-American force alone was able to continue the campaign without needing any British assistance.
ww2dbaseOn 21 Apr 1944, Stilwell informed his deputies that he intended to capture Myitkyina, which boasted a strategically located airfield, and the soldiers, already on the march, learned of this target five days later. Hunter was to have tactical command of the Myitkyina operation, which numbered 6,000 American and Chinese troops. He divided the assault force into three groups, H Force (Hunter; US 5307th's 1st Battalion, Chinese 150th Regiment, and a howitzer battery), K Force (Colonel Henry Kinnison; US 5307th's 3rd Battalion, Chinese 88th Regiment, and two howitzer guns), and M Force (Lieutenant Colonel George McGee, Jr.; US 5307th's 2nd Battalion and 300 Kachin guides and guerrilla fighters). Hunter launched the operation on 29 Apr 1944, marching into the Kumon Mountain Range. Even though the Chindits were fighting concurrently nearby, aiming to reach Mogaung merely 40 miles to the west of Myitkyina, Stilwell chose to keep his push for Myitkyina a secret from Mountbatten. Post-war studies of his field diary noted that he wanted to surprise and embarrass the British by taking Myitkyina, and it could be conjectured that by keeping the campaign a secret, he could avoid potential embarrassment should the operation fail. On 9 May, a combined Sino-American force captured Ritpong, on 14 May the code phrase "Cafeteria Lunch" was sent by Hunter to Stilwell to inform him that he was ready to strike on Myitkyina within 48 hours. In the evening of 16 May, with H Force reaching Namkwi merely 4 miles north of the airfield, the code phrase "Strawberry Sundae" was sent to indicate that the offensive was to be launched on the following day.
ww2dbaseThe offensive on Myitkyina began at 1030 hours on 17 May 1944 with Chinese 150th Regiment attacking the airfield, while 1st Battalion of the US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) moved to capture the ferry terminal at Pamati one mile to the southwest on the Irriwady River. Surprising the defenders, Chinese troops overran the airfield by 1200 hours. Hunter sent Merrill a message that the airfield had been secured, no damage was visible on the runways, and that his men needed ammunition. When US aircraft began to arrive within the day, Hunter was first surprised that Merrill failed to appear in person, nor did he bother to send any supplies. Instead, Merrill sent engineers, who were tasked to repair the airfield despite Hunter having already reported that the runways were in good condition. Because Mountbatten was never informed of this operation, the British never prepared for any possible assistance, such as reinforcements to either help hold the airfield or to help capture the city located mere miles east of the airfield. On the following day, Merrill again failed to send ammunition; instead, one aircraft carried Stilwell and 12 camera-wielding war correspondences, and the next disembarked anti-aircraft gunners at a location where threat of Japanese aircraft was not particularly high. Merrill would not appear at the airfield until 19 May, but his presence would ultimately matter little as he would suffer a minor heart attack that would take him to India to recuperate. To replace Merrill, rather than promoting Hunter who was understood the unit intimately, Stilwell appointed Colonel John McCammon, who was known to be a yes-man to Stilwell, much like Merrill. Meanwhile, the American's lack of preparations for operations after Myitkyina Airfield was not mirrored on the Japanese side. Japanese soldiers were being transferred to the city of Myitkyina rapidly, and much of that movement went without Stilwell's staff noticing.
ww2dbaseBy this time, the Americans of 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) had been in the field for three months. In May, the 14th Evacuation Hospital was moved forward to the general area with the primary duty of caring for the sick and wounded. The hospital staff recorded the following on the men of the 5307th:
ww2dbaseHunter made a list of grievances and personally delivered it to Stilwell, noting that the men had been overworked, lacked promotion and decorations, and were disappointed that repeated promises of rest had been broken. Hunter's men had also become front line troopers in the attack on Myitkyina city, even though they were not trained for that role. Finally, as the men of 5307th fell one by to exhaustion and disease, finally many of them simply could not go on and were sent to India to rest. They were disappointed upon reaching India, however, as the accommodations were extremely poor, and many of the personal possessions they left behind in India, not well guarded, were ransacked by rear echelon troops.
ww2dbaseStilwell's failure to quickly build up a fresh force immediately after capturing Myitkyina Airfield soon became a visible problem as the attempt to capture the city of Myitkyina became a protracted siege. 40,000 Chinese troops from Yunnan Province, China did soon arrive under the command of General Huang Weili, and that number would soon grow to 72,000. Throughout the siege, intelligence would fail on both sides, with the Americans constantly underestimating the number of Japanese defenders, while the Japanese constantly overestimating the number of Sino-American attackers. As a result, American generals took on risks by making rapid moves against an enemy that was stronger than they had estimated, and the Japanese fought unnecessarily conservatively and lost many opportunities for counteroffensives. On 3 Jun 1944 the 42nd and the 150th Chinese Regiments made an attack on the city, only to be pushed back by the Japanese after heavy casualties. Though starting to have a sense that the Japanese garrison was stronger than expected, the Allied command still believed that the city was only defended by fewer than 1,000 Japanese troops. Over the next month, a battle of attrition wore down both sides, with exhaustion and disease claiming a significant portion of casualties. The first signs that the Japanese were starting to become worn down appeared in the last week of Jul 1944 when Kachin rangers operating in Detachment 101 found Japanese field hospital patients being floated on rafts downstream by hospital staff, in hope that they would be received by Japanese garrisons down the river. Even the natives were reporting that the Japanese were starting to hire them to make rafts and build booby traps. Rumors were also being spread by means of captured Japanese prisoners of war that a small number of key officers at Myitkyina had committed ritual suicide. The suspicions of a upcoming victory began to actually materialize only a couple of days later, on 26 Jul, when the 3rd Battalion of the 5307th made a significant gain by capturing the northern airfield at Myitkyina. Over the next week, Japanese resistance was noticeably weaker. On or about 1 Aug, General Mizukami committed suicide after seeing the main part of his army safely withdrawing from the area. Before he did so, however, he ordered for those wounded that could not be evacuated efficiently to stay behind as rear guard and hold the town as long as they could.
ww2dbaseOn 3 Aug 1944, the city of Myitkyina was finally captured. At the conclusion of the May-Aug siege, 972 Chinese were killed and 3,184 were wounded; after adding the 188 sick, the Chinese suffered a total of 4,344 casualties. The Americans suffered 272 killed, 955 wounded, and 980 evacuated for sickness; the American casualties totaled 2,207. The Japanese suffered 790 killed, 1,180 wounded, and 182 captured; Colonel Fusayasu Maruyama, the garrison commander at Myitkyina, was able to escape.
ww2dbaseSpecifically on the over-extended 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), it started with about 2,600 men in Feb 1944. Their good training led to only 93 killed and 301 wounded or missing between Feb 1944 and May 1944. However, a staggering 1,970 men were hospitalized due to debilitating sickness, amoebic dysentery having the greatest number of cases at 503.
ww2dbaseWhen Myitkyina was finally taken, Stilwell dismissed Hunter, explicitly ordering him to return to the United States by ship rather than to fly. Some hypothesized that it was so Stilwell and Merrill could take the credit for the campaign that led to the victory at Myitkyina, while preventing Hunter from divulging the less savory events such as Stilwell having overworked the 5307th. The news did eventually leak, however. On 6 Aug 1944, the newspaper Washington Post published "Marauders' Morale Broken by Hospital Faults, Promises", and other publications slowly picked up on various tales of the poor treatment of the 5307th. When later questioned by senators, Stilwell and Merrill chose to lie when possible, and point fingers when they could not; they were largely successful, securing credit for capturing Myitkyina and ultimately relegating Hunter to obscurity.
ww2dbaseThe capture of Mogaung by the Chindits on 26 Jun in Operation Thursday and the capture of Myitkyina on 3 Aug meant that the Japanese were now driven out of northern Burma. American engineers were immediately sent in to build a new road through the Hukawng and Mogaung valleys through Kamaing to Myitkyina, and plans were start to be put together to repair the road from Myitkyina to Bhamo to the south, where the Allies hoped to pick up the Burma Road.
ww2dbaseAfter a short time to regroup, Allied forces pushed south again. Japanese strategy in Burma from this point forward changed drastically toward the defensive, abandoning the notion of maintaining a northern flank to threaten China's supply situation. The Japanese forces in Burma saw a change in personnel as well. After the failures of 1944, Lieutenant General Renya Mutaguchi was relieved, replaced by Lieutenant General Shibachi Katamura, formerly of the Japanese 54th Infantry Division. The Burma Area Army saw a new commander in Lieutenant General Kimura Hyotaro, formerly of the Ordnance Administration Headquarters in Tokyo.
Frank McLynn, The Burma Campaign
Gavin Mortimer, Merrill's Marauders
Nathan Prefer, Vinegar Joe's War
Last Major Update: Sep 2007
Battle of Myitkyina Interactive Map
Battle of Myitkyina Timeline
|18 Feb 1944
|The 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) reached Shingbiyang, Burma.
|19 Feb 1944
|The 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) marched past Joseph Stilwell's headquarters at Shingbiyang, Burma as they headed out to the assembly area in Ningbyen for the first long range penetration mission, shaven and helmeted to look good for the general who they expected would show to wish them luck. Stilwell chose to remain in his quarters, disappointing his troops.
|20 Feb 1944
|The 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) arrived at Shingbiyang, Burma. Lieutenant Colonel George McGee chose not to rest and pressed on for the assembly area at Ningbyen 10 miles down the road despite the approaching darkness. They would end up needing the entire night to reach Ningbyen, arriving in the morning of 21 Feb.
|21 Feb 1944
|The 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) arrived at Ningbyen, Burma. Joseph Stilwell, in a dirty field jacket without rank insignia, talked with some soldiers. Several soldiers did not realize who Stilwell was and made jokes about his older age. The visit repaired the damage done by Stilwell when he neglected to take the time to meet his men at Shingbiyang two days prior. Also on this date, the first supply drop by C-47 aircraft for the long range penetration mission was conducted.
|22 Feb 1944
|The 3rd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) arrived at Ningbyen, Burma. Joseph Stilwell met with Frank Merrill and ordered him to reach Walawbum, 15 miles south of Maingkwan on the Kamaing Road, by 3 Mar, which was when the Chinese 22nd and 38th Divisions and the Chinese 1st Provisional Tank Group was supposed to attack Walawbum from the opposite direction.
|23 Feb 1944
|Frank Merrill met with the battalion commanders, combat team commanders, and reconnaissance platoon commanders of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) in Ningbyen, Burma as the troops prepared to embark on a long range penetration operation into northern Burma.
|24 Feb 1944
|The 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) marched out of Ningbyen, Burma into Japanese-held territory in northern Burma at 0600 hours, the 2nd Battalion at 0900 hours, and the 3rd Battalion at 1100 hours.
|28 Feb 1944
|All three battalions of the US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) arrived at the village of Tanja Ga in Burma about 22 miles east-northeast of Ningbyen. The village was the assembly area from which they would commence its campaign against the Japanese. Joseph Stilwell ordered the unit to begin marching toward Malawbum, 40 miles away, as soon as possible. The 2nd Battalion and 3rd Battalion would depart at dusk.
|29 Feb 1944
|1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) departed the village of Tanja Ga in Burma.
|2 Mar 1944
|Joseph Stilwell gave orders to the three battalion commanding officers of the US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) in Burma. The 1st Battalion was to split in two, one force to block trails at Sana Ga and Nchet Ga, and the other to be held in reserve at West Ga. The 2nd Battalion was to go through Wesu Ga to set up a roadblock on the Kamaing Road just east of the Numpyek River 2.5 miles west of Malawbum. The 3rd Battalion was to pass through Sabaw Ga and Lagang Ga and secure high positions along the Numpyek River. All three battalions were to hold those positions until Chinese troops would capture Malawbum. As the Americans advanced according to these orders, they engaged Japanese troops later on the same day.
|5 Mar 1944
|Roy Matsumoto of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) stumbled upon a Japanese telephone line connecting Japanese 18th Division headquarters in Kamaing and its field units at Maingkwan in Burma. Tapping into it, he learned of the location of an ammunition dump. After relaying the intelligence to his superiors, an air strike was ordered to destroy it. He also was able to gain advance warning regarding an attack on positions manned by the Blue Combat Team.
|6 Mar 1944
|Louis Mountbatten arrived at Taihpa, Burma by transport aircraft escorted by 16 fighters to inspect Joseph Stilwell's headquarters; Stilwell privately complained that Mountbatten had used enough fuel on this trip for Stilwell to mount an offensive. Mountbatten would also visit the Walawbum battlefield 25 kilometers to the south. On the front lines, the 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) arrived at Wesu Ga early in the morning. Colonel Charles Hunter, liaison officer Colonel Chun Lee, and a small group traveled north to make contact with was meeting with Colonel Rothwell Brown of the joint American-Chinese 1st Provisional Tank Group to possibly coordinate an attack on Japanese positions near Walawbum, but they could not locate the Chinese unit. On the same day, the Japanese launched several frontal attacks across the Numpyek River near Walawbum. 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional)'s Orange Combat Team halted the attacks, inflicting heavy casualties while suffering only a small amount itself. At about 2230 hours, as the Japanese halted the attacks and quietly sent litter bearers to carry away the wounded, Frank Merrill ordered Lieutenant Colonel Charles Beach to withdraw the Orange Combat Team, intending for the Chinese 38th Division to eliminate the remaining Japanese.
|7 Mar 1944
|Chinese 38th Division overran most Japanese defensive positions at Walawbum, Burma by mid-morning, thus negating the need for the US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) to move to Chanmois. Joseph Stilwell celebrated the successful Sino-American collaboration before a group of journalists, but the soldiers were jealous of the Chinese soldiers who were regularly given canned corned beef, fresh cucumbers and onions, and rice, while the Americans, who operated far behind enemy lines and thus cut off from being supplies regularly, dined on largely K-rations, which the soldiers found boring. Meanwhile, General Shinichi Tanaka ordered Japanese 55th and 56th Infantry Regiments to attack American positions at Walawbum to allow the rest of Japanese 18th Division to retreat southward; Joseph Stilwell, Jr., the ranking American intelligence officer in the area and so of the commanding general, failed to detect the withdrawal and thus would lose the chance to wipe out the demoralized Japanese division.
|11 Mar 1944
|Frank Merrill gave his US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) officers at Shikau Ga, Burma a briefing on their next objective, which was Jambu Bum in the Mogaung Valley about 20 miles south of their current position. The Americans were to move behind the Japanese to cut lines of supply and communication, while Chinese 22nd Division was to be the main attack force, with Chinese 65th Regiment covering the right flank in the west. Two Chinese regiments from 38th Division was to provide support for the Americans as necessary. The 1st Battalion was to lead the advance for the Americans to create a roadblock on the Kamaing Road near Shaduzup, which was 10 miles south of Jambu Gam, supported by Chinese 113th Regiment. The 2nd and 3rd Battalions were to establish secondary roadblocks 10 miles further south at Inkangahawng.
|12 Mar 1944
|The 3 battalions of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) departed Shikau Ga, Burma at 0830 hours for the village of Inkangahtawng, which was 10 miles south of Shaduzup, to establish a roadblock prior to the Chinese attack on Jambu Bum. The Americans were guided by Burma-born hunter Jack Girsham.
|14 Mar 1944
|After advancing a further 14 miles, forward units of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) ran into Japanese troops north of Shaduzup, Burma, thus losing the element of surprise. The Japanese attacked in strength and caused casualties, but ultimately they failed to push the Americans back. In order to meet Joseph Stilwell's demand to reach Shaduzup by 24 Mar 1944, 1st Battalion decided to hack a new trail across uncharted jungle rather than following the established trails that was most likely defended by the Japanese.
|15 Mar 1944
|Joseph Stilwell ordered the Chinese 22nd Division to attack the ridge of Jambu Bum in northern Burma.
|16 Mar 1944
|A scheduled airdrop for the 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) was canceled after the aircraft failed to locate the drop zone amidst thick jungle north of Shaduzup, Burma.
|17 Mar 1944
|A reattempted air drop completed successfully at 0730 hours north of Shaduzup, Burma for the 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional). On the same date, battalion medics recorded the spread of dysentery among the troops; looking for someone to blame, they noted that the accompanying Chinese 113th Regiment troops must be the cause.
|19 Mar 1944
|Chinese 66th Regiment captured Jambu Bum ridge in northern Burma, about 140 kilometers northwest of Myitkyina.
|20 Mar 1944
|1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) suffered 1 dead and 2 wounded after encountering a Japanese machine gun nest north of Shaduzup, Burma. Also on this date, Frank Merrill met with his officers at the village of Japan and gave orders. Orange Combat Team of 3rd Battalion was to remain in Janpan. 2nd Battalion and Khaki Combat Team of 3rd Battalion were to cut off Kamaing Road south of Shaduzup somewhere between Warazup and Malakwang, under Colonel Charles Hunter's tactical command; they would depart within hours with Blue Combat Team of 2nd Battalion at the vanguard. The forward elements reached Nhgum Ga by the end of the day.
|21 Mar 1944
|Troops of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) received an air drop at the village of Auche, Burma. Colonel Charles Hunter gave the villagers the parachutes as compensation for their assistance. Meanwhile, Chinese troops captured Jambu Bum ahead of schedule, thus Frank Merrill ordered Hunter to establish a roadblock on Kamaing Road 36 hours earlier than originally planned. Merrill also ordered the Orange Combat Team of 3rd Battalion to depart Janpan and form a block near Auche.
|22 Mar 1944
|In Burma, the villagers of Auche hosted a celebration for Frank Merrill and his headquarters staff. Meanwhile, Colonel Charles Hunter's troops of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) marched along the difficult trail following the Nampana River, crossing it many times. 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), which marched in support of Hunter's units, suffered 1 dead and several wounded after being ambushed north of Shaduzup.
|23 Mar 1944
|Colonel Charles Hunter, with his troops now 6 miles southeast of Inkangahtawng, Burma, decided to establish the roadblock at that location. He ordered the Khaki Combat Team to be held in reserve while the forward elements he sent out reached as far as the eastern bank of the Mogaung River, the village of Ngagahtwang, and a position 300 yards east of the Kamaing Road; from the latter location, the American soldiers were close enough to the Japanese to hear arriving trucks disembarking Japanese troops. The 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) was supposed to establish another roadblock a few miles to the north, but 1st Battalion fell behind schedule, leaving Hunter's troops exposed without Hunter's knowledge. Also, unbeknownst to the Americans, the Chinese 22nd Division halted its southward advance to rest, further exposing Hunter's troops.
|24 Mar 1944
|Troops of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) fought off a Japanese attack near the Mogaung River in Burma, advanced, and reached the village of Ngagahtawng. In the same area, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Beach of 3rd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) ordered the intelligence and reconnaissance platoon, led by Lieutenant Logan Weston to set up roadblock at Poakum, 7 miles north of Kamaing. He also ordered a rifle platoon under Lieutenant Warren Smith of K Company of Orange Combat Team to setup a roadblock on Warong-Tatbum road. These were to protect 2nd and 3rd Battalions' northeastward withdraw from Manpin. On the same day, Merrill moved his headquarters to the village of Nhpum Ga, which was about 7 miles north of Weston and Smith.
|25 Mar 1944
|Lieutenant Colonel William Osborne of 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) sent a platoon to attack the Japanese along the Kamaing Road as a diversion for another group of his troops to advance down the trail toward the main objective, Shaduzup, Burma. Meanwhile, Men of Lieutenant Colonel George McGee, Jr.'s 2nd Battalion departed the village of Ngagahtwang at 0500 hours, many wounded in tow. Colonel Charles Hunter, whose radio is broken, surveyed the field in an L-4 aircraft and spotted McGee's column. Realizing the many wounded after landing and speaking to McGee, he ordered the aircraft to return without him, and to quickly return with litters to help evacuate the wounded. Hunter scolded McGee for foolish field decisions, but McGee told him that some of the tactical decisions were made by Frank Merrill directly, thus deepening the chasm between McGee/Merrill and Hunter. Finally, on 3rd Battalion's front, Japanese troops attacked in force, destroying the radio set carried by Lieutenant Logan Weston of the Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon, thus rendering him without communications; he made contact with Lieutenant Warren Smith also of 3rd Battalion, who assisted with Weston's retreat.
|26 Mar 1944
|In Burma, Lieutenant Colonel George McGee, Jr. and the troops of his 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) departed camp at 1000 hours, and Colonel Charles Hunter followed after all wounded were evacuated by air. McGee arrived at Manpin at 1200 hours, where Hunter ordered McGee to clear a field for a resupply by air. At 1700 hours, McGee departed camp toward Auche while Hunter remained at Manpin, where he was joined with Lieutenant Colonel Charles Beach of the 3rd Battalion to plan on an attack on Kamaing. The attack was overruled by Frank Merrill, who ordered Hunter to withdraw instead.
|27 Mar 1944
|Lieutenant Colonel George McGee, Jr. and the troops of his 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) arrived at Auche, Burma at 1000 hours. The remainder of the 3rd Battalion arrived in afternoon. Frank Merrill ordered 2nd Battalion to withdraw to Nhpum Ga and 3rd Battalion even further north to the clearing named Hsamshingyang to prepare an airfield.
|28 Mar 1944
|1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) eliminated a Japanese position near the Mogaung River north of Shaduzup, Burma at 0430 hours. After sun rise, Japanese 70-millimeter howitzer and 77-millimeter mountain guns fired on American positions to clear the road to Shaduzup as Shaduzup was now under attack by Chinese 22nd Division. Meanwhile, Japanese troops counterattacked Chinese troops near Jambu Bum ridge. Elsewhere in Burma, The 2nd Battalion departed Auche at 0600 hours, Japanese troops in pursuit. The first units of the 2nd Battalion began arriving at Nhpum Ga at 1000 hours. Frank Merrill left the defense of Nhpum Ga to the 2nd Battalion and moved his headquarters to the clearing of Hsamshingyang. Merrill was visibly pale and unwell en route to H. The doctors believed he had suffered a minor heart attack and arranged Merrill to be evacuated by air.
|29 Mar 1944
|Four howitzers of Chinese 113th Regiment forced Japanese artillery to cease firing on 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), which had been ongoing since the previous day, and further advanced to force the Japanese guns to fall back; by nightfall, the Allies would learn that the Japanese were evacuating Shaduzup, Burma and the Chinese would capture the city before dawn. Elsewhere, Frank Merrill was evacuated by air in the morning from Hsamshingyang toward 20th General Hospital at Ledo, India. Colonel Charles Hunter assumed command of the US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) and moved to Nhpum Ga, but which time Lieutenant Colonel George McGee, Jr. and the 2nd Battalion had completed defensive preparations at Nhpum Ga, which was near the clearing at Hsamshingyang. Between 1040 and 1400 hours, some supplies arrived at Hsamshingyang by air. Hunter departed Nhpum Ga at 1530 hours.
|30 Mar 1944
|Japanese troops attempted to capture Nhpum Ga, Burma against the 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), with infantry attacking in waves throughout the day and artillery pieces bombarding in-between.
|31 Mar 1944
|At 0530 hours, Japanese artillery on the American positions at Nhpum Ga, Burma intensified, paving way for a second day of infantry assaults. Meanwhile, another group of Japanese troops moved toward the clearing at Hsamshingyang and set up a roadblock, cutting off Nhpum Ga's main supply route; this roadblock was discovered by troops of Orange Combat Team of 3rd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), but the Americans were unable to break the roadblock. Lieutenant Colonel George McGee, Jr., commanding officer of 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), reported 3 men dead, 9 men wounded, and many mules killed; though casualties were relatively few, McGee nevertheless feared that the supply situation would become impossible to overcome by the next day. Colonel Charles Hunter, in command of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), at Hsamshingyang, began to organize a mule train to leave for Nhpum Ga the next day, to ensure his own position did not get surrounded by the Japanese, and to request fresh water to be delivered by air.
|1 Apr 1944
|The Japanese attempt to capture Nhpum Ga, Burma slowed as heavy rain poured. Lieutenant Colonel George McGee, Jr. at Nhpum Ga was informed by his superior Colonel Charles Hunter that Hunter was expecting a delivery of two 75-millimeter howitzers by air on the next day, which would hopefully relieve the pressure that the Japanese had been placing on McGee's 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional).
|2 Apr 1944
|Two 75-millimeter howitzers arrived by parachute at the clearing at Hsamshingyang in Burma in crates. As soon as they were set up, Colonel Charles Hunter of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) ordered their usage against suspected Japanese gun positions at Kauri south of Nhpum Ga. Meanwhile, the Japanese assault on Nhpum Ga continued.
|3 Apr 1944
|Lieutenant Colonel George McGee, Jr., whose 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) had been under near constant attack by the Japanese at Nhpum Ga, Burma for several days, sent a warning message to his superior Colonel Charles Hunter at the clearing of Hsamshingyang nearby, noting that the constant pressure by the Japanese and the lack of fresh water were about to break the morale of his men. With 1st Battalion five or six days away and Chinese allies more than ten days away, Hunter only had the tired troops of the 3rd Battalion to attempt to rescue the besieged 2nd Battalion. He planned to strike out from Hsamshingyang toward Nhpum Ga at 1200 hours on the next day, with Orange Combat Team at the front and Khaki Combat Team ready to flank the first Japanese position that Orange Combat Team would encounter.
|5 Apr 1944
|The Japanese launched a frontal assault at Nhpum Ga, Burma before dawn, in multiple waves. The 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) was able to stop the attacks, inflicting heavy casualties on the Japanese. During the day, the 2nd Battalion received a supply of ammunition by air, though the badly needed drinking water would only come later. Meanwhile, to the north, 3rd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit continued their offensive toward Nhpum Ga, gaining 300 yards of jungle.
|6 Apr 1944
|Troops of Chinese 38th Division advanced to about 10 miles north of Hsamshingyang, Burma, relieving pressure from the rear of 3rd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional). On the 3rd Battalion's front, it had reached about 500 yards north of Nhpum Ga by the end of the day.
|7 Apr 1944
|The 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) arrived at Hsamshingyang, Burma at 1700 hours after marching through 30 miles of jungle, which took 5 days. The 800 men were exhausted, and 200 of them were suffering from acute dysentery. Colonel Charles Hunter immediately organized an offensive toward Nhpum Ga for the next day, and Osborne of 1st Battalion committed 254 of his men who were in decent enough of shape to fight.
|8 Apr 1944
|Troops of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) assaulted Japanese positions north of Nhpum Ga, Burma, making use of the pack howitzers that had just arrived recently.
|9 Apr 1944
|At 0700 hours, US aircraft dropped supplies at Nhpum Ga, Burma. At 1000 hours, a patrol from 3rd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) began to advance up the hill, observing a great number of Japanese dead from the recent artillery barrage. At 1100 hours, a patrol from Orange Combat Team pushed toward the western edge of Nhpum Ga. At 1200 hours, the 3rd Battalion reached Nhpum Ga.
|18 Apr 1944
|Charles Hunter started drills and parades to reinstate military organization to the US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) in Burma after difficult fighting at Nhpum Ga, Burma.
|21 Apr 1944
|Joseph Stilwell gave orders to launch a desperate plan in an attempt to capture Myitkyina, Burma, having Chinese and American troops march over the difficult Kumon Mountains starting on the following day.
|22 Apr 1944
|Troops of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) began marching through the jungle for Myitkyina, Burma.
|24 Apr 1944
|3rd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) marched 8 miles through the jungles of northern Burma toward Myitkyina. 5 men passed out from heat exhaustion.
|26 Apr 1944
|Troops of the 3rd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) arrived at Naubum, Burma. Joseph Stilwell, already there by aircraft, revealed to the soldiers that Myitkyina was to be the next objective. Frank Merrill told Charles Hunter that Hunter would have tactical command of the operation, with Marauders, US 150th Infantry Regiment, Chinese 50th Division, and the 88th Regiment of the Chinese 30th Division under him, totalling 6,000 men. Hunter divided the troops into three forces. He was to personally lead H Force, consisted of the 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), the Chinese 150th Regiment, and a howitzer battery. Colonel Henry Kinnison was to lead the K Force, consisted of 3rd Battlion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), the Chinese 88th Regiment, and two howitzer guns. Finally, Lieutenant Colonel George McGee, Jr. was to lead M Force, consisted of 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) and 300 Kachin guides and guerrilla fighters.
|29 Apr 1944
|H Force of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), under the command of Colonel Charles Hunter, departed toward the Kumon Mountain Range in Burma. Joseph Stilwell opted not to inform Louis Mountbatten regarding this offensive toward Myitkyina, Burma in fear of a possible failure that would make him appear incapable in front of the British.
|30 Apr 1944
|K Force of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) approached the summit of the 6,100-foot elevation Naura Hkyat Pass, en route to Myitkyina, Burma.
|3 May 1944
|The US Joint Chiefs of Staff directed Joseph Stilwell to make Myitkyina, Burma his primary goal, independent of SEAC, in order to develop communications with China in support of the American effort in the Pacific.
|5 May 1944
|K Force of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) reached the trail junction one mile south of Japanese-held Ritpong, Burma.
|6 May 1944
|Khaki Combat Team of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) began hacking through jungle northwest of Ritpong, Burma; they encountered a Japanese field kitchen and captured braised buffalo mean, canned fish, and other foods. Meanwhile, two companies of Chinese 88th Regiment moved into position to attack the village.
|7 May 1944
|Two companies of Chinese 88th Regiment began to attack Ritpong, Burma from the northwest while Khaki Combat Team of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) fired mortar rounds on the village from the south. Meanwhile, M Force (Lieutenant Colonel George McGee, Jr.) of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) began marching for the Kumon Mountains in Burma.
|9 May 1944
|Two companies of Chinese 88th Regiment and Khaki Combat Team of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) captured Ritpong, Burma.
|11 May 1944
|K Force of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) departed Ritpong, Burma toward Tingkrukawng.
|13 May 1944
|Colonel Henry Kinnison ordered K Force of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) to fall back and then to move toward Myitkyina, Burma.
|14 May 1944
|Colonel Charles Hunter sent Joseph Stilwell the code phrase Cafeteria Lunch to note that the troops were ready to strike Myitkyina, Burma within the next 48 hours.
|15 May 1944
|The Kachin guide leading H Force of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) was bit by a venomous snake, but Colonel Charles Hunter forced him to continue forward to stay on schedule of the Myitkyina, Burma offensive. Meanwhile, M Force (Lieutenant Colonel George McGee, Jr.) reached Arang, Burma; by this time, most of the men of M Force were sick and exhausted; 50 were left behind for evacuation by air under the care of medical officer Captain Henry Stelling, while the others continued the march toward their objective of Myitkyina Airfield further south.
|16 May 1944
|H Force arrived at the village of Namkwi, Burma, 4 miles north of the airstrip at Myitkyina. Colonel Hunter ordered his troops to intern the villagers in case any were informants for the Japanese. In the evening. Hunter sent the code phrase Strawberry Sundae to Joseph Stilwell to indicate the offensive would begin in 24 hours. After dark, he ordered Sergeant Clarence Branscomb to sneak onto the Japanese-held airfield to see how many defensive structures were manned and whether the airstrip had any unepaired bomb craters; Hunter gave Branscomb his opened bottle of Canadian Club whiskey as a gesture of appreciation. Branscomb recruited Tom Frye and Walter Clark, who finished the whiskey before moving out in the dark. The group would successfully complete the reconnaissance mission.
|17 May 1944
|At Myitkyina, Burma, Colonel Charles Hunter ordered Chinese 150th Regiment to attack the airstrip west of the city, and ordered 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) under Lieutenant Colonel William Osborne to capture the ferry terminal at Pamati one mile southwest of the airstrip on the Irriwady River. The Chinese attack began at 1030 hours and the airstrip was captured at 1200 hours, with most Japanese troops falling back into the city aboard trucks. 1st Battalion Red Combat Team remained at the ferry terminal and White Combat Team moved to the airstrip to reinforce the Chinese. At 1530 hours, Joseph Stilwell learned of the success, and gleefully noted in his diary that this capture would embarrass the British. When informed of the capture, Louis Mountbatten was angered by Stilwell's decision to hide this offensive from him. Nevertheless, Mountbatten gracefully sent a message to Stilwell to praise his leadership and to congratulate the success. Stilwell, however, did not think of sending any messages to the commanders in the field to thank them. Colonel Charles Hunter, the tactical commander, was surprised that his superior Frank Merrill failed to show in the first group of aircraft to land at Myitkyina Airfield; instead, Merrill sent a team of engineers to repair an airstrip even though Hunter had already reported that the airfield was captured in tact. Merrill also failed to send any badly needed food and ammunition. Shortly after capturing the airfield, Hunter ordered K Force of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) to move toward the airfield with speed. On the Japanese side, troops were quickly gathered at Tingkrukawng to the northeast and would arrive at Myitkyina within 24 hours.
|18 May 1944
|Joseph Stilwell arrived at Myitkyina Airfield, Burma, not with badly needed food and ammunition for the US US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) and its Chinese allies, but instead with 12 war correspondents who happily took photographs of the general on the newly captures airfield. The next transport again failed to bring any supplies, instead it disembarked anti-aircraft gunners. In the afternoon, Stilwell ordered a Chinese battalion to probe Japanese defenses at the city of Myitkyina to the east, which by this time had grew to a strength of 700 men. Meanwhile, K Force of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) marched toward the village of Charpate five miles northwest of Myitkyina near the Mogaung-Myitkyina Road while H Force White Combat Team of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) captured the ferry terminal at Zigyun southeast of Myitkyina.
|19 May 1944
|Frank Merrill finally arrived at Myitkyina Airfield in Burma, but would suffer another minor heart attack; rather than appointing Charles Hunter, who had spearheaded the recent successes for US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), to take Merrill's place, Stilwell chose Colonel John McCammon; McCammon had a history of going along with Stilwell's orders without any questions. Meanwhile, M Force (Lieutenant Colonel George McGee, Jr.) of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) arrived at Namkwi, four miles northwest of Myitkyina, Burma; 25 men were ordered to be sent to Myitkyina Airfield for evacuation by air due to sickness.
|20 May 1944
|Food and ammunition arrived at the Myitkyina Airfield in Burma for the first time. Meanwhile, three battalions of Chinese 150th Regiment attacked the city of Myitkyina in the afternoon; strong Japanese defenses led to high casualties, and battlefield confusion led to a series of fatal friendly fire incidents.
|22 May 1944
|Joseph Stilwell promoted John McCammon to the rank of brigadier general to command all American and Chinese troops in the Myitkyina area in Burma, despite his recent arrival and lack of field command experience. On the front lines, after dark, men of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), tired from spending so long fighting in the Burmese jungles without rest, allowed a Japanese force to march right past their foxholes as they slept, losing several men, including Lieutenant Warren Smith who might not had woken from his sleep when he was killed. By this date, the strength of 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) was down to only about 400 soldiers who were fit for combat.
|23 May 1944
|Men of 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) engaged Japanese positions as they marched toward Charpate, Burma. A number of the Americans reported falling asleep amidst the firefight due to exhaustion from having fought in the harsh Burmese jungles for extended amount of time.
|24 May 1944
|Colonel Henry Kinnison received orders to pull back K Force of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) two miles southward behind Chinese-held lines in northern Burma.
|25 May 1944
|Joseph Stilwell flew to Myitkyina Airfield. Charles Hunter personally handed him a letter listing all the grievances from the field officers and men of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), noting that the area commanders had betrayed them by depriving them of rest and treating them as expendable, leading to the whole of 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) becoming practically ineffective as a combat unit.
|26 May 1944
|The strength of 3rd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) dropped to only about 50 to 60 men as most of the battalion who survived the four months long campaign in the Burmese jungle had been evacuated to India due to wounds or disease.
|30 May 1944
|Brigadier General Haydon Boatner relieved John McCammon as the commanding officer of all American and Chinese units in the area of Myitkyina, Burma.
|31 May 1944
|The strength of 3rd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) dropped to about 30 soldiers and one officer as most of the battalion who survived the four months long campaign in the Burmese jungle had been evacuated to India due to wounds or disease.
|1 Jun 1944
|US Brigadier General Haydon L. Boatner was appointed to command the Myitkyina Task Force in Burma. On this date, the strength of 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) was down to 18 officers and 366 men.
|2 Jun 1944
|Lieutenant Colonel George McGee, Jr. requested 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) to be relieved and be evaluated from Myitkyina, Burma to India. Both Colonel Charles Hunter and Brigadier General Haydon Boatner agreed.
|3 Jun 1944
|The men of 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), whom on the previous day received Brigadier General Haydon Boatner's approval to be evacuated to India for rest, began boarding aircraft at Myitkyina Airfield in northern Burma.
|4 Jun 1944
|By this date, most of the men of 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) had been evacuated from Myitkyina, Burma for India. A few were left behind to train the two freshly arrived replacements, coming directly from the United States, not yet acclimatized and inexperienced in combat.
|26 Jun 1944
|Brigadier-General Theodore F. Weasels took over command of the Myitkyina Task Force from the sick Brigadier-General Haydon Boatner following another bout of malaria.
|26 Jun 1944
|Brigadier General Theodore Wessels relieved Haydon Boatner as the commanding officer of American and Chinese troops in the Myitkyina, Burma region.
|3 Aug 1944
|A two-month siege by US and Chinese forces at Myitkyina in Burma finally succeeded in capturing it.
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» Beach, Charles
» Hu, Su
» Hunter, Charles
» Kinnison, Henry
» McCammon, John
» McGee, George
» Merrill, Frank
» Osborne, William
» Pan, Yukun
» Stilwell, Joseph
» Sun, Li-jen
» Merrill's Marauders
» Merrill's Marauders
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General Douglas MacArthur at Leyte, 17 Oct 1944
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